Rishabh Pant was facing immense pressure ahead of the first ODI against West Indies at the MA Chidambaram stadium. Prior to the match, Pant faced massive flak for his poor batting and wicketkeeping in the series against South Africa, Bangladesh and in the Twenty20 series against the West Indies. Pant's reckless strokeplay at crucial junctures, leading to soft dismissals, as well as poor work behind the stumps led to accusations that he did not put a premium on his wicket. The criticism mounted in the Chennai ODI and with the likes of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli gone cheaply, the onus was on Pant and Shreyas Iyer to revive India.
India's No.4 and No.5 have been the potential weak underbelly in the Indian cricket team. However, the duo stood up and shared a partnership of 114 with Iyer hitting his fifth fifty and Pant smashing his maiden half century to silence the detractors for the time-being. Speaking in the post-match press conference, Pant said, "I've realised after playing a fair bit at international level that unlike at amateur levels of cricket, there isn't anything like a natural game. At the international level, you have to play according to the situation or what the team demands. It's my learning curve, I'm thinking that. From team's point of view, whatever I can do to help my team win, to have a good score on the scoreboard, that's what I was focussing on. In the end, I got some runs," Pant said.
In many games, whenever Pant missed an opportunity, the crowd would troll the Delhi keeper by chanting names of MS Dhoni. This sometimes led to Virat Kohli having an angry interaction with the crowd. Pant said crowd support is important, as it was witnessed when he reached a fifty for the first time.
"Sometimes it's important when crowd supports you. From an individual point of view, I was trying to improve myself every day but I wasn't getting there. I am not saying I got there, but I try to improve. As an individual and as a player, I want to focus on my processes. All the talk going around, they're good and sometimes they're not. At the moment, I'm concentrating on my game and that will hold me in good stead. I will always tell a person that you have to believe in yourself. It doesn't matter what people say around you. Sometimes you don't get runs, sometimes you get runs but the process is always important," Pant said.
With Pant coming good and India's middle order showing spirit in the Chennai ODI, India will be determined to come back on level terms in the second match at Vizag which begins on December 18.